You seem to really like collaborations and back2back sets…
Well, I don’t know about b2b… It’s a big trend now, promoters really like it and they sell it as something more special, but I don’t think that two DJs are better than one. You have to know each other and be in the same kind of mood, or mindset to make it work properly. Gerd Janson and Axel Boman, for example, are the exceptions. We are good friends, together in this business for many years and we know each other pretty well, so I feel really comfortable playing with them.
But, I’m a big fan of collaborations. It is also intimate in a certain way, you have to like the person and feel good in their company. It is not something I seek out, but more like something that just happens.
Your last solo album, ‘The Silent Orbiter’, was dedicated to Pete Namlook, your friend for two decades and a collaborator on almost 30 albums. How did you manage to release so many?
It’s amazing. He was very organized, determined, quick and efficient. That’s why we were able to do it. I’m a bit different, I would probably have only eight instead of 30. He would make sure that we have at least one session per year. He would come by really early in the morning, with a car full of equipment. The entire room would be filled with Moogs and cool synthesizers.
In most cases we would meet at my place. Those albums, 23 of them, are named ‘Move D/Namlook’. The three albums recorded at his place are under the project name ‘Koolfang’.
Often, especially in the very old sessions, the material was magical on its own and there was not much we had to do before releasing it. We would record all the instruments together in Toontrack, so there wasn’t much we could do with it anyway. Two or even three albums would come out of one session. Some of the tracks are more than 30 minutes long and I sometimes feel like we could have spent more effort in making them shorter and better…
Well, they are what they are, and they’re really good.
That’s exactly the point, they are what they are now. One day, all of a sudden, he was not there anymore and since that day I’ve looked at it in a different way. I’m so grateful that we did what we did. There are almost thirty albums and so many memories… It’s like he knew he needed to be fast and efficient.
Is there any space for rationalisation in your music making process?
I would say that in making music there should be no rationalisation at all, but rather something completely opposite – you shouldn’t be thinking about what you are doing or trying to push it in some specific direction. When you listen to some people, you can clearly tell that they do think and rationalise.
There is this book called ‘The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)’, written by The KLF. It was a bestseller, at least in some music circles. Everything in that book is true and it’s all about rationalisation. They claimed that by creating their manual, they did their first #1 single. Most of it is a very funny and interesting read. At the same time they were doing really outstanding chillout albums, which had nothing to do with commercial music.
And how do you do it?
Well, the music that really moves me happens when I just forget about everything, follow the stream of things and go wherever it takes me. There are a couple of things that happen in the studio and I’m there when it happens… I kind of just help the music to materialize, but it’s almost like I haven’t done it myself. Then I pile it all up and sit on it for some time before I release it, often for a few years. I have to be sure that I like it even after some time has passed.
I listen to this stuff I’ve produced and piled up, and sometimes get really impressed, but not in a self-indulgent way… I get surprised and ask myself ‘where the hell did this come from and how did it happen?’. I find it a lot more interesting when I approach music like this, because whatever comes out sounds like it’s taken from somewhere else. If that makes any sense.
What do you enjoy the most, DJing, performing live or studio work?
Sometimes people say they like my music and that it means a lot to them, but I don’t know what’s going on when they listen to it, I don’t witness their reaction. When I go out and DJ, I can see it, and feel that I did something good. As a DJ, I play for the people and my mission is to make them happy. It’s sociable, you connect with people, try to take into account what their background is, what might they like…
It’s fun and I love it, but making music is a completely different thing. I try to exclude myself, not listen to other people and just go more inside myself. I don’t do it for the people, it’s something I couldn’t exist without. Even though it’s all about the music and it’s kind of the same field, these are two very different aspects of it, and I think I’m gifted to be somewhat established in both.
While DJing is like a service, people pay the ticket and expect to have fun, doing live myself, with The Mulholland Free Clinic or with Magic Mountain High is something else. Our purpose is different, we’re not there to serve, we are there simply to explore our music. It may seem egocentric, but it has to be like this. If all live acts were approached with a DJ mindset, it would lead to a deadlock and it would all sound the same – ‘how to perfectly please the crowd’. There has to be room for more obscure, crazy and daring stuff.
How do you mostly discover new music?
Actually, a lot of the good new stuff I get from people – they come to a party and give me their white labels, sometimes it’s their first. A lot of these records are really nice, some of them are great! It’s completely new stuff that no one has ever heard of and I love to get the chance to play it first. Occasionally I nick a record that I hear in a friend’s set.
Would you like to share some of those great ones here?
Sure, there is Laurence Guy, he already has like two or three 12” by now and is releasing an album on Church. Last year I’ve been playing to death Mad Rey’s ‘Quartier Sex’ (on D.KO Records). It’s a project from France, I think I may actually bought that one.
Some records don’t have any information on them, like the one I really like, with the black label and no print on it… I didn’t know who gave it to me, but I played it a lot. Many people asked me about it and I couldn’t say! One time I recorded a video and asked on Facebook who the hell gave me this record? It was Gnork from the UK.
What kind of music do you listen to at home?
Although I play it as a DJ, I don’t listen to electronic music when I’m home. I find it more interesting to listen to jazz, classical, indie pop, world music or whatever and get inspiration from that. When I listen back to something I recorded previously, I can always say what kind of music I was listening to at that point. If I was listening to a lot of contemporary electronic music, I can hear the influence from it, and I don’t want that.
In one interview you talked about Albert Hofmann’s lecture you’ve attended. Can you share some juicy moments?
I am sceptical of religious leaders, actually, any kind of leaders. There are many, let’s call them psychedelic leaders, like Timothy Leary, Terrence McKenna, Genesis P-Orridge… All of them are in some sort of ‘leader’ role and they want to sell something, or make you believe something. I’m always sceptical about that.
And then, there is Albert Hofmann, who was a scientist, not a leader type – that’s why I trusted him more – he wasn’t trying to sell anything. Scientists have a rare kind of thinking, which I find very familiar and close to, as my father was one. When a serious man like him, who is also not a tripped out hippie, however stupid that might sound, starts talking about psychedelics and his perspective on certain things, to me it has much more meaning. The way he spoke gave him even more authority in my eyes and I valued his opinion.
He was telling people that it’s necessary to be careful and respectful to the substance and the experience, and that it’s not a party drug. You have to be kind of ready and educated enough to experiment with it. Also, he suggested to have some guidance, as ‘it was made for shamans’. He said that until his psychedelic experience, he didn’t realise there was another reality.
What do you think about that?
I believe what he says is true, and even if you can’t see another reality, you get much deeper understanding of this one. Not to look at yourself as a separate individual and to think only about yourself, is what it’s all about. The planet is one big living organism in a circle of life, with all the animals, plants and everything. We all share this time and space, just like the drops in the ocean.
Some people think it should be put in water so everybody would be on acid, which is very radical and I wouldn’t go there, but I also wouldn’t be as strict as dr. Hofmann. He was really strict about it. When I was at his lecture, he was about 88 years old, and he lived to be 102, so he was very old. He said ‘apparently, LSD is not harmful to longevity and I seem to be the living proof of that’. He said he took it the last time when he was 77, it wasn’t something he would do often.
Is there a bad song you really like?
Many! First one that comes to mind is ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’.
– Interview conducted by Daria G
Daria is a journalist from Croatia and a dance floor enthusiast.
Photo Credits: @daddysgotsweets / Daddy’s Got Sweets